Mock Newbery Discussion

“The Newbery Medal was named for eighteenth-century British bookseller John Newbery. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.” (Newbery Medal Homepage)

On Tuesday, January 10th, Suffolk County library staff will gather in celebration and exploration of the Newbery experience at our annual Mock Newbery Discussion. A shortlist of books will be discussed in relation to the specific Newbery terms, definitions, and criteria. The discussion groups will – in true Newbery fashion – vote for a winner and perhaps even select Honor books. Two titles from the shortlist were announced at the October Children’s Librarians Meeting: Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai and Small Acts of Amazing Courage by Gloria Whelan.

Debut author Thanhha Lai, through a series of poems, tells the story of ten-year-old Hà and her family’s escape from Vietnam just as Saigon falls to their new life in Alabama. Hà must bear the weight of many worries: Will her father, who has been missing in action for years, return to their home in Vietnam only to find it abandoned? Did Hà cause her family’s bad luck by setting her toe on the floor on the first morning of the New Year, a step that is supposed to be taken by a boy? Will she ever eat anything resembling the beautiful papayas of her homeland again, or will it only be canned fruit and hot dogs smothered in red and yellow sauce? Inside Out & Back Again is based on the author’s own experience and is a National Book Award Finalist.

National Book Award winner Gloria Whelan has authored another book of note: Small Acts of Amazing Courage. Rosalind is an English girl who has spent her entire life in India. Her father has been traveling for years as a major in the British Indian Army. Rosalind’s mother has never recovered from the loss of her son Edward, who died while attending school in England before Rosalind was born. Rosalind’s only companions are her nursemaid’s daughter, Isha, and a Cambridge-bound solider, Max Nelson. When her father returns to India in 1918, he is dismayed to learn Rosalind has come under the influence of Gandhi, one of the the Congress Party’s leaders. Rosalind is sent to stay with her aunts in London to receive a “proper” education. When Rosalind meets her Aunts Ethyl and Louise and reunites with Max Nelson, she discovers that no matter where she is told to go, only she can steer her mind.  

In preparation for the Mock Newbery Discussion, participants are also asked to familiarize themselves with the Newbery terms, definitions and criteria and the CCBC Book Discussion guidelines. The discussion will begin promptly at 9:30am in the SCLS Auditorium. Please register by contacting SCLS Youth Services.

Happy reading!

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